John Oliver's career in the financial services industry spans over forty years, working both in Europe and the United States. Over the past twenty years he has built a thriving consulting practice with focus on strategy development processes, strategic planning, corporate governance and the developmental needs of directors in financial institutions.

Mr. Oliver specializes in strategic management consulting and is responsible for the design and implementation of the highly regarded FIplanner strategy-development process for community banks and the CUplanner process for credit unions. The goal of these processes is to focus on the practical rather than the conceptual and to develop meaningful and measurable strategies to take institutions into a viable and relevant future; they have been hailed as “a logical, step-by-step process without all the abstractions that are so often involved.” As a result of his extensive management development training experience he has acted in an advisory capacity for the American Institute of Banking. His consulting services are utilized by institutions of all sizes and types, from small community-based organizations to major multi-national institutions. Internationally his programs have been implemented for participants from Asia, Europe, South America, and Australia. His work with directors has been hailed as a breakthrough in director education. His current area of focus is the credit union and community banking sector where the challenges facing smaller institutions are increasing on a daily basis.

Mr. Oliver began his career with National Westminster Bank in England, where he gained considerable knowledge of the retail financial-services environment. He then moved to Kleinwort Benson, one of the oldest merchant banks in the City of London. In 1978, he entered the world of international banking when he joined Rothschild Intercontinental Bank. With RIB he was transferred to the United States to form a new project finance/venture capital subsidiary that was subsequently acquired by Continental Bank. His experience covers virtually every sector of the financial services industry. 

Educated in England in Banking and Finance, his educational background together with his extensive industry experience and a proven ability to communicate have resulted in his current position as a highly respected independent consultant. He is on the faculty of the BAI Graduate School of Banking and the Community Bankers School (formerly the Midwest Community Bankers School). He acts as lead-faculty and curriculum designer for the CUES School of Applied Strategic Management and the CUES Director Strategy Seminar. He is listed in the U.S. publications Who's Who in Finance and Industry and Who's Who in the World, as well as in the Dictionary of International Biography published in Cambridge, England. Mr. Oliver is the author of the book What Really Is Expected of Me - The Directors Guidebook and has contributed to articles in numerous financial services publications. He is a regular speaker at financial services sector events and over the last decade he has addressed credit union executives, bankers and directors from all over the world. 


Speaking / Consulting Topics


Market-Driven Strategy Development – The Key to Future Relevance
The time has come where credit unions need to determine their own future rather than have it dictated by external circumstances. While consumer needs have evolved over the last twenty years many financial institutions have employed a strategy of “let’s stick to the basics” which has actually translated to “we’ve always done it this way so we must be good at it.” Regrettably, how good we are at “it” doesn’t really matter if the marketplace doesn’t want “it.”

The disintermediation of the traditional financial services sector; the dramatic increase in competition; the consolidation of institutions; the increasing willingness of members and customers to “shop around” for their financial needs and the commoditization of our products, are combining to create the most challenging conditions we have ever faced. We are unquestionably in an over-banked society which will likely dictate a “survival of the fittest” environment. An institution with substandard strategy-development and planning processes can only hope to contend with changes as they occur but can never hope to proactively manage its own future. Only by employing best-practices in whole-system planning in an effort to truly understand evolving market needs can any credit union take control of its destiny and stay relevant in its defined market.
This session explores such corporate best practices as:

  • Whole-system planning
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Business Intelligence


Financial Services Evolution or Built-In Obsolescence – It’s Our Choice
Since its inception over three hundred years ago the financial services industry has always existed to meet the evolving needs of first the corporate marketplace and then the retail sector. Unfortunately, over the last twenty years the marketplace has been evolving at an ever-increasing pace that the traditional financial services providers have had serious difficulty matching. The proliferation of non-traditional providers to the point where there now exists a shadow banking system; the vast amount of information available to consumers; the loss of control of the payment system and the aging of the member/customer base of the majority of traditional providers are just some of the factors conspiring to create a situation of built-in obsolescence for institutions that are unwilling to hold their business model up to scrutiny and question future relevance.

This session explores the continuing evolution of the sector and best practices for effectively addressing the current challenges, including:

  • Understanding the existing business model
  • Opportunity-based strategy development
  • Data analytics as a tool for understanding market needs
  • Burning platform methodology in leadership


Effective Governance to Ensure Ongoing Viability
The board and executive management team make up the leadership of a credit union and leadership is often a difficult concept to define. However, if we take a simple look at the dictionary we find the definition of leader as “one who guides people or actions”, “one who points out the way”, and “one who prescribes a course.” Look at these basic definitions and they all demand focus on the future. Many boards have somewhat unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in the areas of future profitability and growth given the challenges facing all traditional financial services providers. The fault often lies in a lack of contextual understanding of the major evolutionary factors impacting strategic success.

This session explores best practices in governance in an effort to make directors an effective and integral part of the future of their organization, and includes such topics as:

  • Major evolutionary trends in financial services
  • The need for considering a different future
  • The boards role in strategy development
  • Practical, measurable strategy for leadership accountability